“Grinding it Out… the Rocky Mindset”
2018: Your Breakout Season Part 5
I began writing this on a Sunday afternoon when I suddenly heard loud explosions, like bombs going off. Then…I began to smile, because I realized that the explosions were, actually, bombs.
Living as I do in the beautiful city of Oceanside, California, my next-door neighbor is, literally, Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton. For the 20-plus years we’ve lived in the area, my wife, Karen, and I have always considered the bombs, artillery and rifle fire to be the sound of freedom being played out.
We are often treated to over-flights of helicopters. You know, there’s nothing like having a couple of Osprey helicopters fly over the house and shake the ground—especially at night! As I drive along the coast, I get treated to the sight of frequent field exercises, with the tanks and other tracked vehicles working on their precision skills; helo carriers and hovercraft are visible offshore. They are there all hours of the day, all days of the week, year in and year out, good weather and bad weather, honing skills which might be called upon in those kinds of conditions. It’s an amazing thing to behold, this gigantic, noisy symphony with a tightly choreographed ballet of huge mechanical marvels. Grinding it out.
I like to think it’s all done for my benefit, you know! Yours, too, of course, so that we (you and I) don’t have to go out anymore and do what sometimes needs to be done to keep everything safe. And it’s equally true of our first responders. We are so blessed by them.
Fascinating to me is that, in all this time, I’ve never heard any of our neighbors or friends complain about the noise. There is not a single NIMBY (not in my back yard) to be found, at least with regards to Camp Pendleton. That said, be assured that there are NIMBY’s galore very willing and able to protest most any kind of construction or development, things political, and so forth, but nothing anti-military.
Why? The common denominator in my neighborhood, and my heritage, and I imagine the same to be the case in yours, is a profound respect for the sacrifices being made: next door to me, near to you, and half-way across the world, in hundreds and hundreds of bases and installations. Not only that, there is respect for the even-greater sacrifices of the many families involved.
Speaking of heritage, I did something really crazy the other day! For the first time in fifty-four years, one-and-one-half months, I visited my old high school campus. It being summer, no classes were in session, so I checked in with the office and asked if it would be okay to look around. They welcomed me to do just that. As I said, crazy, huh?
In many ways it was a surreal experience. The school had not changed—not been rebuilt—and was still in pretty good repair. Even so, it looked to me just vaguely familiar. I recognized the old gym (where I had once become pretty adept at standing along the walls, hopelessly afraid to ask any girl to dance); passed by the courts where it had been demonstrated tennis was not to be my game; over to the stadium track where I did learn the value of being able to finish a race and a season, even without much athletic ability. Importantly, I did learn the value of training, of being part of a team, realizing the connection between practicing and getting better.
Finally, onto the football practice field where I had toiled in relative obscurity, but did make that team, endured two-a-day practices during the heat of summer and learned that I couldhang in there. Most importantly, that I could grind it out, contribute to the team, and make a difference.
Of course, my high school teachers helped me with much more than sports. They did a pretty good job of preparing me academically for the real grind of life itself, the battles still to come. And I learned about the value of relationships, both with teachers as well as students.
Closer to home, Coach Steve, a mentor of mine, was talking to a group of us the other day. He did me the favor of reminding us that the battle is always on, because life, itself is a battle! He was waxing philosophically, as he sometimes does, about things other than sports—those ideas and problems and difficulties and obstacles, all of which are way, more important than sports.
Coach Steve is more concerned with the relationships among ‘team’ members. He wants us to come along side someone who is struggling and offer a sympathetic ear, maybe a hug or just a firm handshake, maybe even some real help. At the least, letting our ‘team mates’ know we care for them and, yes, even love them—some of them, anyway!
Whenever I speak or talk about leadership and teamwork, and start using sports metaphors, Rocky Balboa often seems to come up. It’s hard to believe, but the first Rocky movie came out over 42 years ago, in 1976. Yikes! In coaching, motivational speaking, business counseling, whatever it is, there is almost a cosmic law that you have to mention Rocky at some point or other, so here it is. In the immortal words of Rocky Balboa, “It isn’t about how hard you get hit. It is about how hard you get hit and keep moving forward!”
A couple of Coach Gary takeaways for you:
- You are going to get knocked down in life!
- Even if you get knocked down, you are not a failure—unless you don’t get back up.
As we go toward the end of this year, let’s focus on the greatness of our country, the love of your family, the huge potential of your business and skills. September always brings up 911 and the memories of that horrible day. Seventeen years later, the rubble of the Twin Towers has been cleared away and an even-better and stronger structure now stands. The recent recession of several years ago has now become a booming, even greater American economy. Your business has likely been lifted by it, as well.
Our fellow citizens are out there today, doing their jobs to keep us all safe. But that doesn’t mean anything if there aren’t homes and businesses and communities to protect. In general, people are happier these days, but there is still no shortage of those who are hurting, who need our encouragement. Frankly, they may also need a job, which you may or may not be able to help with, but we can certainly all be encouragers of our fellow man.
Finally, this: Success has no meaning apart from failure. They go together, parts of the same measuring tool. Success would mean nothing at all if there was no such thing as failure. The fact that you or your country or your family or your friends or your business may have failed at something at one point in time is not important. What is? Just this: What did you do about it? Now…get back up. Keep moving forward. Keep grinding it out.